Saturday, February 21, 2009

Bufo, er, Chaunus, er, Rhinella... granulosus

My very first day on Hato Masaguaral was a whirlwind - meeting my coworkers, getting introduced to the parrotlets and the ranch, and going crazy as every bird that flew by was something new. I think I ended up with 15 lifers by the time night had fallen. I wasn't done there, though, right after cleaning up dinner I grabbed my new headlamp and charged outside to look for herps. Five steps out the door and I found my first one.

It's a toad! A new toad, a lifer toad, the widespread neotropical species granulosus in the family Bufonidae. I wish I could assign an accurate and up-to-date genus to this toad, but I can't with confidence. For simplicities' sake, we could stick with the long-standing label Bufo for the many toads worldwide. A flurry of recent amphibian systematics and taxonomy papers have suggested alternatives, giving us sub-genus or full genus options including Chaunus or Rhinella for granulosus and many other neotropical toads. Sorting out what's valid and what's not seems like such a daunting task, I haven't even tried... yet. So for now, I present Bufo [Chaunus [Rhinella]] granulosus, the common toad of Masaguaral.

Common it is, although I rarely encountered it outside of breeding pools. When I did find them in the day, it tended to be little juveniles like this one hopping around in the forest leaf-litter. (I'm assuming this if B. [C. [R.]] granulosus, it could perhaps be the even more abundant and widespread Cane Toad, B. [C. [R.]] marinus although I never observed an adult of that species at Masaguaral)

Typically, any night after a rain on the ranch, the air is filled with the deafening trills of singing male granulosus. Their throats take on a yellowish tinge, and they loaf around the sandy edges of puddles in the pastures and trails, trilling from an air-filled bag slung under their chin. Very, very sexy. The combined decibel power is enough to drive one mad and make filming the calls of any other species virtually impossible. Just listen for the trills in my frog call video.

The granulosus is on the left, the frog on the right will be discussed soon

No comments:

Post a Comment